Gardening 101

Classes to Hone Your Planting Skills

By Virginia Hayes

Summer hasn’t quite given its last hurrah, but life is returning
to a more regular schedule with the kids back in school and a tad
fewer tourists to navigate around in town. Is it time to do
something for yourself? Most assuredly. One of the things to
consider would be honing your gardening skills and knowledge.
There’s a slate of classes and courses starting up that can teach
you more about our natural world and just how to make our gardens
the best they can be.

One such class has just started this week at the Wake Center
(300 N. Turnpike, room 15) where landscape architect Billy Goodnick
will guide you through the process of creating your own “beautiful,
functional, low-maintenance, sustainable landscape.” Goodnick is
one of the Garden Wise Guys of local television fame and an
accomplished designer. His humorous presentation style will make
the learning process painless and you will come away with new
skills of perception and planning that will help you realize the
best garden your site can become. The class runs for five weeks on
Monday evenings, 6-9 p.m., and began September 11 with a half-day
field trip to view public and private gardens in the area as a
finale. For more information, call Billy at 687-1690.

For a truly in-depth look at horticulture from a scientific
basis, you may want to consider the Master Gardener Training
Program. This rigorous training includes 80 hours of instruction
and another 80 hours of volunteer service to the community to hone
the skills you have learned throughout the course. Topics range
from soil biology and structure, fertilizers, irrigation, native
plants, growing fruits and vegetables, plant pests and diseases,
and garden design. Most importantly you will learn principles of
sustainable garden practice and design. Classes are held at the
Santa Barbara Botanic Garden on Thursday afternoons, 12:30-4:30
p.m., beginning on October 26 and concluding March 22.

An orientation session will be held September 28. In return for
this in-depth training, master gardeners are expected to log at
least 40 hours of volunteer help for an additional two years in
service to local botanic gardens or other nonprofit ventures. Even
if you don’t join the ranks of master gardeners, you can profit
from their expertise through the Master Gardener Helpline. Call
682-4726 x117, Monday or Wednesday, 1-4 p.m., for a live chat with
a volunteer master gardener; or leave a voice message at any other
time with your gardening dilemma and a master gardener will
research your problem and return your call. To receive more
information and an application packet, call the Helpline and leave
your name and mailing address.

One of the S.B. organizations that values volunteer
participation and is approved for master gardener volunteer hours
is UCSB’s Sedgwick Reserve. This “crown jewel of the University of
California Natural Reserve System” preserves more than 2,000 acres
of the Santa Ynez Valley, and is noted for both its large size and
environmental heterogeneity. On Friday, October 6, a course of
training for volunteers at the reserve begins. The course runs 10
weeks, ending February 9. UCSB faculty and area experts will
instruct participants in the natural history of the preserve and
train them to lead educational hikes for adult and kids. Other
volunteer activities at the preserve include collecting seeds for
the native plant nursery, restoring degraded habitat, cataloging
the photo archive, mapping and maintaining trails, fundraising, and
providing office help, to name a few.

To find out more or sign up for this class, call or email Lucy
Thomas (687-3507 or or Kate
McGuinness (693-1356; If you don’t have
the time to commit to such long-term endeavors, there are other
one-day classes to help you get more from your garden. The Santa
Barbara Organic Garden Club regularly hosts one- or half-day
classes of interest. On Saturday, September 16, 9:30 a.m. - 12:30
p.m., Larry Saltzman and Linda Buzzell offer a class on Using
Permaculture Design Principles in Organic Gardens. These design
principles foster ecologically sound gardens that use mulch,
composting, successional planting, water capture and conservation,
and much more. The class will be held at 26 El Prado Place. Call
451-4168 for more information.

Oscar Carmona, owner of Healing Grounds, a wholesale organic
nursery, will teach a class on Saturday, October 28, 10 a.m.-noon
on Secrets of Successful Seed Planting. For more information, call
689-3044 or email

Whatever your interest, there is probably a class or two to help
you achieve healthier and more beautiful gardens. You may even help
out a local nonprofit along the way. A win/win situation for


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